Doncaster v Crystal Palace: In-form Donny capable of causing a shock

Doncaster manager - Grant McCann
Doncaster manager, Grant McCann, looking to mastermind a shock on Sunday
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Doncaster Rovers are bidding to reach the FA Cup quarter-finals for the first time in their history when they take on Crystal Palace on Sunday and Steve Rawlings thinks we might be in for a treat...

“On paper, this is the classic cliched FA Cup tie with the plucky in-form lower league minnows at home to the Premier League big boys and, fingers crossed, it could be a really entertaining encounter with two sides intent on progression and free from pressure.”

Doncaster v Crystal Palace
Sunday February 17, 16:00
Live on BBC One

In-form Donny looking to create history

Victories against Chorley, Charlton, Preston and Oldham have resulted in Doncaster reaching the fifth round of the FA Cup for the first time in 63 years. Donny reached this stage of the competition four times in five years in the 1950s but that really was a purple patch and they don't have much of a cup tradition. They've never been further than the fifth round and they don't have a great recent record against Premier League sides in the competition either.

Since beating QPR 1-0 at home in the third round in 1985, Rovers have been eliminated five times by a top-flight side. They held Aston Villa to a nil-nil draw at home in 2009, before losing the replay 3-1, and they also drew at home to Wolves (2-2) two years later, before getting beat 5-0 at Molineux, but that's as close as they've come to beating a Premier League team in the last 34 years.

I'm not convinced we can read too much in to it but Donny have a decent record against Sunday's opposition. The two haven't met since the 2011/12 Championship season but Palace are winless in their last six away games against Doncaster in all competitions (D2 L4) since a 5-1 win in the fourth tier in August 1960. This is the first time the two have met in the FA Cup and Grant McCann's men look to be meeting their more illustrious opponents at just the right time.

Donny have lost just one of their eight games played this year in all competitions (3-2 away to Wycombe) and after a comfortable 3-1 home win against fellow promotion rivals, Peterborough, last weekend and a straightforward 3-0 victory over Southend on Tuesday night, Rovers are in fine fettle and up to sixth in Division One.

Eagles seeking swift Wembley return

Donny may be in-form but Crystal Palace aren't doing so bad either and they've lost just two of their eight games in all competitions in 2019. A 2-1 home defeat to Watford was disappointing but they perhaps deserved something at Anfield when they narrowly lost 4-3 to Liverpool last month and they're unbeaten in their last four since.

The Eagles were far from impressive when scraping past ten-man Grimsby 1-0 in the third round but they fully deserved their 2-0 victory against Spurs in the fourth round and with the draw opening up so nicely, they'll be aiming for another visit to Wembley, so soon after they lost the final 2-1 to Manchester United in extra time three years ago.

With the likes of Liverpool, Arsenal and Spurs all out of the competition already, and with Chelsea and Manchester United drawn together (playing Monday night), Palace are no bigger than 12/1 to lift the trophy for the first time in their history and it's difficult to imagine the manager, Roy Hodgson, won't take it seriously.

Palace are currently 13th in the Premier League and only three points above the relegation zone but with Huddersfield and Fulham already in big trouble, the Eagles are getting on for 20/1 shots to go down in the Premier League Relegation market. They've been playing well since they shocked the defending champions, Manchester City, at the Etihad just before Christmas with a 3-2 win and despite the small points gap to Southampton in 18th place, they look fairly safe.

Hodgson FA Cup.jpg

Goals on the agenda for both teams

With a return to the Championship the main priority for Donny and with Premier League survival such a big deal for Palace, it's not easy to gauge how seriously these respective teams are going to take Sunday's tie. Elimination won't be the end of the world for either side but the financial boost a continued cup run would give the home side and the prospect of silverware and a first FA Cup success for Palace, are factors big enough to suggest both teams will be going out all guns blazing with nothing but progression on their minds and we might just get a really entertaining game.

Palace are cagey and even turgid at home and there's a risk that they'll attempt to keep things tight here, given they're much the stronger side. Their away games are far more open affairs and they play on the counter on the road in the Premier League. There's a huge disparity between goals scored at Selhurst Park and goals scored whenever the Eagles are away with only 15% of Palace's Premier League home matches producing three goals or more compared to 54% on the road.

Playing the Both Teams to Score market when Palace are at home has only paid out 24% of the time in the Premier League this season but 62% of their away games have seen both sides find the net.

I know it's a different division but Doncaster are far more free-scoring. Runaway leaders, Luton, are the only team in League One to have scored more goals this season and Donny have scored at least twice in each of their last eight at the Keepmoat Stadium. Both Teams to Score has only landed 44% of the time when they've hosted but no other team in the top-six has conceded as many at home as Doncaster and the Both Teams to Score % rises to 67% for their away games.

Palace have scored in all eight games they've played this year so It's very hard to envisage Doncaster keeping a clean sheet but it's equally difficult to see the home side not scoring given how well they're playing and how little they have to lose. Both Teams to Score is quite rightly odds-on and so too is Over 2.5 Goals.

Home side value to cause a shock

Crystal Palace have won five of their last seven away games in the FA Cup (D1 L1), which is more than they had in their previous 23 on the road in the competition (W4 D5 L14), suggesting the competition is far more of a priority than it once was but I'm not convinced.

They were well up for the Spurs clash in round four but they met them at just the right time and if they play like they did against ten-man Grimsby in round three, they can forget any notions of returning to Wembley.

At the time of writing, a decision on Wilfred Zaha's ban has yet to be made, but it looks likely that he'll miss the tie and he'll be a big loss. And that's another plus for the home side.

Grant McCann's Donny are in tip-top form at present, they're home form is exceptional and in John Marquis, who's already found the net 22 times this season, they have a genuine match winner so in what looks a tricky tie to call, the home side are worth a small interest at anything around the 5/1 mark.

On paper, this is the classic cliched FA Cup tie with the plucky in-form lower league minnows at home to the Premier League big boys and, fingers crossed, it could be a really entertaining encounter with two sides intent on progression and free from pressure. We could see a great game and a glut of goals so given 23% of games involving Doncaster have seen at least five scored this season, I'm happy to take a small chance on over in the Over/Under 4.5 Goals market.

Same Game Multi

If you fancy combining two or more scenarios to build a bet that pays handsomely, click on the Same Game Multi tab at the top of the Sportsbook market and pick two or more selections to build a wager. For example, John Marquis to score, both teams to score and Doncaster to win pays £15.59 for £1 stake.

2018/19 P/L

Staked: 70 pts
Returned: 44.53pts
P/L: -25.47 pts

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